Alabama Softball To Play For Title

Alabama Softball Coach Patrick Murphy had seen enough. His Crimson Tide was trailing in the game and the first four batters had struck out. He made an impression on the fifth batter, which jump-started Bama to a 5-2 win over South Alabama in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional at Rhoads Stadium Saturday.

The win gives Alabama the afternoon and evening off while other teams work to see who plays against the Crimson Tide on Sunday. In the afternoon elimination game, it was Georgia Tech playing Tennessee Martin. The winner of that game was to meet South Alabama Saturday evening for the right to continue playing.

Alabama and the survivor of the rest of Saturday's play will meet at 1 p.m. CDT Sunday. If Alabama wins, the tournament is over. If Bama loses, the teams will play another game at 3:30 p.m. CDT with the winner advancing to the NCAA Super Regional. If the Crimson Tide wins, the Super Regional will be in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide was trailing 1-0 in the top of the second (South Alabama was the designated home team for the game) when Murphy had a conversation with Cassie Reilly-Boccia. "I called time out and told Cassie that I wanted the ball in play," Murphy said. "I don't care what happens--put it in play.

"She singles up the middle.

"I think that sometimes in a big game like this, it just takes that one person to get it done, and then it's a little relaxing sort of thing. When they took the lead, it felt a little more of a monkey on the back."

South Alabama had only two hits, but both were home runs.

The first homer by the Jaguars was by senior Christin Crocker in the second inning.

Murphy said being behind "is not a bad thing. It showed that we could come back. I don't think anyone panicked in the dugout. I think that everyone believed that eventually we could do it."

Alabama came right back, scoring three runs in the top of the third inning, including a Kaila Hunt home run, before adding a pair of runs in the fifth inning to put the game away. The Jaguars scored in the bottom of the seventh when senior Haley Hopkins opened the inning with a solo homerun over the fence in left-center field.

Alabama sophomore Jackie Traina picked up the win for Alabama, pushing her record to 34-2 on the season, while sophomore Hannah Campbell took the loss for South Alabama, falling to 24-11.

Murphy said, _"I knew that it was going to be a much better game than it was in February. Both pitchers pitched pretty well. We made a couple of plays defensively. We put the ball in play. (Kaila) Hunt had a very good day."

Traina said the home runs whe surrendered "were not my best pitches. You leave one out there and it's going to happen.

"I felt good, though. It was my first time pitching in a while. I felt good."

Hunt, who was also robbed of a homer by a great defensive play, said that her 19th home run of the year came on a two strike count. "I had noticed that early in the count she was coming in, and when she got ahead she was going away. That's how I approached the at-bat."

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